“Give me liberty or give me death!” This quote, first uttered by Patrick Henry in 1775 and echoed in various contexts for centuries after, has rarely been equated with wearing clothes or more importantly, the act of not wearing clothes, but there are plenty of reasons it should. Posing nude, particularly for the deliberate purpose of bringing pleasure to the eyes and minds of the masses, is often read as an act of self-objectification and not an expression of empowerment. Then again, objectification and autonomy aren’t mutually exclusive. With this in mind, we asked seven Playmates from over the years to tell us why posing naked is the ultimate articulation of freedom. Here’s to life, nudity and the pursuit of happiness.


PATTI REYNOLDS
September 1965 Playmate
“I think it was ‘knuckles revenge’ for the nuns in Catholic boarding school. It seems from five years old to 13, I was punished every day for being a naughty girl. What better than to appear in Playboy and send a copy to the school? I was taught to be proud of the gifts the good Lord bestowed so why not? Besides, we really were the girl’s next door. Our photos were of the 'Marilyn Monroe cheesecake’ variety and I would do it all over again. It was a special time. The best of times.

I had fun with it. The day my issue came out I was in the corner drug store and two teenage boys were looking at my centerfold. I walked up behind them, looking exactly like I did in the magazine, smiled and said, 'Hi,’ did Playmate my pose and walked out the door. I wish I had their faces on camera. Living at the Chicago Mansion in the only studio apartment and riding my horse over there for breakfast was the ultimate start of a great day. Posing nude for Playboy opened a lot of doors. It probably also closed a few!”


REAGAN WILSON
October 1967 Playmate
“I was not a popular girl in high school, as I was too tall and too shy. I grew up in Missoula, Montana although I was born in California and went to elementary school in Santa Monica until the third grade. I came back to LA after high school graduation and before I was going to college for the summer to stay with my dad who lived here. I was at the beach one day and a photographer gave me his card and he said he was from Playboy. I didn’t know what Playboy was as it was only sold at a few men’s clubs in Missoula with a paper cover. Again by good fortune and luck, I got some modeling jobs that were not nude but gave me confidence to contact Playboy after a year of being here in LA. In 1967 when I posed, the shots were really pin-ups and very tame by today’s standards which I think it a good thing.

Over the many years of being a Playmate I’ve had some amazing experiences. For one, my picture taken to the moon on Apollo 12 by Pete Conrad. The sixties’ Playmates were the girls the Vietman soldiers carried into battle. I got so many letters from these brave young men saying how it helped them to have us Playmates in their lives. During the war, I visited wounded vets at the hospitals and although I was against the war, I supported the soldiers.

I went on to become a fashion model in New York and Europe; the confidence I gained being a Playmate helped me in doing high-end photography. I just came back from a wonderful trip to Italy and in visiting the amazing museums there such as the Borghese Gallery and others where the greatest artists of all time such as Bernini’s sculptures of gods and goddess made me realize they are the first Playmates! The ancient Greeks and Romans saw the beauty and grace in the human form.”


HELENA ANTONACCIO
June 1969 Playmate
“I have been taking my clothes off for the camera for a half-century. It was liberating at 19 and even more liberating at 68. The human form is art and posing nude is how I’ve been expressing myself my entire life; it’s powerful, it’s creative, it’s beautiful and it’s a hell of a lot of fun.”


DEVIN DEVASQUEZ
June 1985 Playmate
“Posing nude for Playboy especially is one of the most liberating freedom of expression that a woman can have in today’s world. Coming from the deep south of Louisiana and posing when I did was a bit controversial back in 1985 and is a bit more common today. I’m so happy I live in America where a woman is free to express herself and feel empowered by posing nude thanks to Hef and Playboy for paving that path back in the fifties.”


KAREN FOSTER
October 1989 Playmate
“My father is a veteran and was awarded the Purple Heart and Bronze Star with Oak Leaf Clusters. It is thanks to the brave men and women like him that I was able to have the ultimate freedom to appear nude in the most famous men’s magazine in the world!”


DEANNA BROOKS
May 1998 Playmate
“There’s an Albert Camus quote I love that comes to mind: ’…become so absolutely free that your very existence is an act of rebellion.’ Freedom to exist, think, speak, march, unite, demonstrate. Freedom to become, un-become, freedom that so many people in this world don’t have, can’t exercise. Un-enjoyed liberties of waking up and throwing off the past and literally enjoying the skin you’re in. Freedom to choose. To have choices. Choice! Freedom to exercise choice. Freedom to really be in your own skin, to own that space both in mind and body. Unapologetically own your own limitless being. I can’t think of anything more beautiful, inspiring or natural, regardless of age, stage, size, sex, and state of just being.

Throw your cares, worries, concerns and clothing aside, America. Strike a power pose (there’s nothing to it) and 'happy birthday suit-on’ America.”


HEATHER SPYTEK
June 2001 Playmate
“Posing nude is the single most liberating thing I have ever done. It empowered me to overcome my inherent shyness and feel comfortable in my own body. It gave me confidence in many ways, other than just feeling comfortable in my own body. Posing nude made me feel like a courageous person; someone that believes in art and believes the human body inspires passion in all things artful. There are many reasons that I can justify the act of nudity, including, nudity as art in photographs, paintings, and sculptures. Throughout history from the first rock carvings to the digital image, nudity has been prevalent and treasured in spite of the shame that others try to place on nudity. Many people have shamed me in my life for my liberation from clothes in photography. I have never let it bother me, because I know the human body in all forms is beautiful, and, should be celebrated and not bashed. Accepting your own beauty as natural and distinct is not always easy. However, it is always liberating.”